23 December, 2010

Merry Christmas - Feliz Navidad - Frohe Weihnachten

It has been a quiet year here on the Lost Geologist in 2010. It is yet unsure what is waiting next year but things here are going through a big personal and professional transition. 

To all my loyal readers and commentators, and everybody else, I would like to extend my greetings and the wish that you all may have a  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011!

28 November, 2010

Where life may take you...

The last few weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster ride par excellence both privately (that I won't be sharing here in any further detail) and professionally switching from the deepest possible misery to wonderful offers. Life has a twisted humor to send it all in happening at once. Things are stabilising by now and especially the professional aspects are offering some great chances to look forward to. As a matter of fact I do have three very different but nonetheless very interesting offers that may wet not just my own appetite for more. A fellow geologist and friend of mine has offered me to come to work in Mexico as a junior geologist for the company he works for and participate in their greenfields exploration programm (know what it means? if not, ask) for silver and gold. What a jaw dropping offer that came out of the blue! Right ahead of that on the same day to follow came a totally different offer that materialised as a fall-out follow-up of attending the GeoDarmstadt 2010 meeting this october and the contacts I made there. There is a very cool offer to start a PhD in southern Germany. A fully industry sponsored project about clays and industrial minerals that is appealing very much to my personality of digging into stuff deep - especially because even the "experts" don't seem have a clue what's wrong. Last but not least I was kicked-out of the application process for the trainee-programm of an international refractories producer - only to be suddenly asked now if I am still interested in the job to become their new research engineer and manage their pilot studies. Cool. As I can't do it all there will be an important decision day soon. I am leaning towards the PhD on industrial minerals because I always wanted to get a chance to do exactly what I want and this is the chance. Some never get it. Also, there probably are tens of thousands of precious metals experts. In the end I would just be one of many. But with that PhD I'll probably mutate into somewhat of an exotic freak (which is a bit of scary but aren't the dangerous things often the most fun?). Besides the lab they'd probably be sending me around the globe (Latin America, Asia, Australasia) to dig into special dirt and cross-check the lab results.

OK. So far for the news here.

24 October, 2010

Book Recommendation: Lagerstätten und Bergbau im Schwarzwald

A few weeks ago I ordered a book about historical mining in the Black Forest region in SW-Germany. The book is titled "Lagerstätten und Bergbau im Schwarzwald - Ein Führer unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der für die Öffentlichkeit zugänglichen Bergwerke" roughly translated to "Mineral Deposits and Mining in the Black Forest". As is obvious by the title a selected number of various historical mines from the Black Forest are featured and described in terms of their history, importance and geology. All descriptions are greatly enhanced by a good number of high-quality sketches, maps and color fotographs of veins, ore or mine workings. Although primarily aimed at amateurs and mining enthusiats with no professional background the book is also a wonderful piece of work for any geologist or mining engineer in my personal opinion. It offers a short but very good overview of the existing and accessible mines. The authors (Dipl.-Geol. Dr. W. Werner and Dipl.-Ing. V. Dennert) both work for the Regional Geological Survey (LGRB) and the Board of Mines of Baden-Württemberg respectively and are experts in their fields. Dr. W. Werner used to be one of the supervisors of my diploma mapping project. I can highly recommmend this book which sadly is only available in German and can be ordered directly from the Regional Geological Survey (LGRB) for a small price. Below the cover image you will find the German descriptions taken from the website of the LGRB.
Cover with historcal mining scene from the book.

Der Schwarzwald ist nicht nur landschaftlich etwas Besonderes. Aufgrund seiner geologischen Entwicklungsgeschichte birgt er auch eine Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Bodenschätze.

Im vorliegenden Buch wird das Wissen über die Bergbaugeschichte und die Lagerstätten des Schwarzwalds zusammengefasst. Hierbei werden die Reviere, in denen Besucherbergwerke der Öffentlichkeit Einblick in den „unterirdischen Schwarzwald“ gestatten, besonders berücksichtigt. Die günstige Verteilung dieser insgesamt dreizehn Besucherbergwerke erlaubt es dem Reisenden, sie gleichsam als Trittsteine durch die vielfältige Geologie und lange Montangeschichte dieses schönen Mittelgebirges zu nutzen.

Gehen Sie mit auf eine ungewöhnliche Reise...(Source: LGRB)

23 October, 2010

Memories of Peru: Damaris - Tusuykusun

A few days ago I discovered a wonderful piece of Peruvian music thanks to a well-made documentary on German TV. It brought back a lot of great memories of my pre-professional practise in exploration and various other visits to Peru between 2005 and 2008. Peruvian geobloggers: I didn't forget about you! The song interpreted by Damaris is sung in Quechua, the local language of the Inkas, with some occasional Spanish words or sentences. The title "Tusuykusun" can be translated as "Let's dance". I thought I share. It can also be found on Youtube HERE.

19 October, 2010

Experiences from GeoDarmstadt2010

Recently, October 10th - 13th, I attended the geological congress GeoDarmstadt2010 jointly hosted by Geologische Vereinigung (GV) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften (DGG). There were a number of field trips to places in Germany before, during and after the meeting. Unfortunately my private budget didn't support the idea of attending those also. Nevertheless the meeting was another interesting experience. Being more interested in economic geology and sedimentology the 2nd and 3rd day were the highlights for me. A number of session on topics and research on mineral deposits in Germany was supported by some excellent presenters. Gladly also my usuall shyness to approach people got less the longer the meeting lasted and I got the chance to actually shake hands and talk to a few reknown researchers working on sequence stratigraphy of carbonates (Wolfgang Schlager of Amsterdam University) and on strategic aspects of economic geology (Friedrich-Wilhelm Wellmer former President of the BGR). Besides meeting famous people I also made a few new contacts that might be helpful in my beginning professional career after graduation. I don't feel like stretching my hopes here that's why I will refrain from apraising these until I know something more concrete. Also, I met our fellow blogger Lutz from the well-known Geoberg Blog or Geonetzwerk. Attending the sessions on public outreach was also a rewarding experience. Our friend was active with two presentations about the aforementioned Geonetzwerk and later on about the usefullness of geoblogging which had some mixed respondses from the audience. Blogging did not reach the minds of people here, yet.

Last but not least some fotographic impressions from the meeting and Darmstadt:

 Entrance to the meeting and conference center Darmstadtium

 A part of the poster session while sessions are taking place.

 Sessions about public outreach activites and the Geonetzwerk.

 Wonderful architecture in Darmstadt right opposite the conference center.

18 October, 2010

"E&G - Quarternary Science Journal" - online and open access!

Interesting news for all you interested in quartenary science and open access! "E&G - Quarternary Science Journal" by the German Society of the Quarternary (DEUQUA) is now available online as an open access publication reaching back till the very first issues in 1951! The publication mode has recently been changed with the cooperation of GEOZON a publisher derived from an open access project of the University of Greiswald, Germany. I almost forgot to mention all of this because I totally forgot about the email I received from them a couple of weeks ago. During my visit of the GeoDarmstadt 2010 geological congress in Darmstadt - jointly hosted by Geologische Vereinigung (GV) and Deutsche Geologische Gesellschaft (DGG) - I had the chance to talk to a representativ of DEUQUA and gather plenty of informative leaflets about the new publication system. Hope this is interesting for some of you out there!

25 September, 2010

The Lost Geologist is now a real geologist!

Yesterday was my last important day at university - my final of the four oral diploma exams! The last hurdle I had to take was an examination in palaeontology. It was one of two final exams that one may chose freely. In hindsight it was a very good decision dispite my extreme nervousness in the last days and week. I never considered palaeontology to be my strong side but there was no going back anymore. The exam lasted maybe 40 minutes and felt, surprisingly to me, quite comfortable. That is probably because it started with a questioning about reef-building organisms and corals - my favorite part of palaeontology. With that good starting feeling the rest of the exam was not easy but doable without any big problems. I have a good grade in all four final exams now and a very good average. My final average may be a bit different because I do not yet know my official grades of my diploma mapping report and my diploma thesis, yet. Anyways, all that remains is some paperwork about my official graduation and receiving my certificat (which usually takes 2 to 3 months) that allows me to carry the German academic title of Diplomgeologe. I am a real geologist now from top to bottom! Mission accomplish!

I will be taking some free days in october to visit friends. Also in the middle of october is the largest geological congress for some years in Germany. The GeoDarmstadt2010 congress. I will be attending hoping to meet some interesting people, learn a bit here and there and looking for some PhD or job opportunities for a young geologist like me. Now that my nervs calm down slowly and there are no more acute worries blogging might pick-up a little pace again, too. We will see.

13 September, 2010

Book Recommendation: Mississippi Valley-Type Deposit Model by USGS

Yesterday I recommended a USGS publication regarding Cu-Porphyries. Another of the recent USGS publications on mineral deposits is the Deposit Model for Mississippi Valley-Type Lead-Zinc Ores. Notably one of my most favorite kind of mineral deposits and that makes me quite existed to study this one more in detail. Perhaps we might see more of these thorough reports of the USGS in the future. A short summary can be found below the front cover image. To find the downloadable PDF file go HERE.
Front cover: Image source: USGS
This report is a descriptive model of Mississippi Valley-Type (MVT) lead-zinc deposits that presents their geological, mineralogical and geochemical attributes and is part of an effort by the U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Resources Program to update existing models and develop new models that will be used for an upcoming national mineral resource assessment. This deposit modeling effort by the USGS is intended to supplement previously published models for use in mineral-resource and mineral-environmental assessments. Included in this report are geological, geophysical and geochemical assessment guides to assist in mineral resource estimation. The deposit attributes, including grade and tonnage of the deposits described in this report are based on a new mineral deposits data set of all known MVT deposits in the world.

12 September, 2010

Book Recommendation: Porphyry Copper Deposit Model by USGS

The USGS has recently posted a very thorough Scientific Investigations Report about Cu-Porphyry deposits that is available for free download as a PDF. From the first few looks that I have taken inside it is most certainly a perfect start for any student or geologists who needs to know a bit more about Porphyries than you got to hear in the 15 minutes presentation in class. I am already loving it! Go HERE to visit the website and for download. The site gives a good content description that you can find below the front cover.
Front cover. Image source: USGS
This report contains a revised descriptive model of porphyry copper deposits (PCDs), the world’s largest source (about 60 percent) and resource (about 65 percent) of copper and a major source of molybdenum, gold and silver. Despite relatively low grades (average 0.44 percent copper in 2008), PCDs have significant economic and societal impacts due to their large size (commonly hundreds of millions to billions of metric tons), long mine lives (decades), and high production rates (billions of kilograms of copper per year). The revised model describes the geotectonic setting of PCDs, and provides extensive regional- to deposit-scale descriptions and illustrations of geological, geochemical, geophysical, and geoenvironmental characteristics. Current genetic theories are reviewed and evaluated, knowledge gaps are identified, and a variety of exploration and assessment guides are presented. A summary is included for users seeking overviews of specific topics.

31 August, 2010

Back in Town

There has been little news here. Mainly due to me being on vacations until a few days ago and spending a nice time on the Balearic Islands, essentially Mallorca. It looked like it has some great geology but I purposefully avoided touching any geology on my relaxation trip which was of course too short. Anyways, the weather and sea-side were fantastic and I wanted to let everybody know that I am back in town now. As you could read in my previous post weeks ago my thesis is done and has been handed-in to the examination office. My two supervisors have yet to file their report. In the meantime I organised my final oral examination for the end of september. Then it is complete "freedom"! 

That means that I also began writing and sending job applications and the first replies are coming in. Nothing cool or concrete, yet, though. With my specialisation I might need to search a bit until I find something that I both know how to do and like to do. Outside the industrial minerals (limestone, dolomite, gpysum/anhydrite, cement, aggregates, etc.) the German scene of exploration or mining companies is rather minute with only a handful of companies worth mentioning. Let's hope either someone in the industrial minerals (which is very strong in Germany) or in ore geology (which is, ehm, microscopic in Germany - we import felt 100% of metals) is in need for a just finished geologist. Or maybe I still stumble across a juicy PHD theme...

If you have some adivse it is naturally very welcome! Perhaps I might also add a CV-like section to my blog.

03 August, 2010

My Thesis: Freshly printed and smelling lovely.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me proudly present my freshly printed thesis! 

The title:
"Mikrofazies, Diagenese und Geochemie des Hauptrogensteins aus dem Pfirter Jura"
- roughly translated to -
"Microfacies, Diagenesis and Geochemistry of the Hauptrogenstein from the Jurassic of Ferrette".

In the image above are the five freshly printed copies of my Diplomarbeit (diploma thesis or master thesis in english). They still smell like print. Lovely! Below, my personal copy of my forgoing Diplomkartierung (something like diploma mapping project). Thus the thesis voyage is finally complete! I so can't wait to go to the examination office this week and officially hand-in the thesis. My supervisors seem pleased. So I am not in worries of my grade. The mapping report has already been examined. It got a good grade. But I have a feeling my thesis might be better. I listened to some of the criticism my mapping report got.

So what's left to do? One thing: The last and ultimate of the four oral diploma examinations. All I need is a time and place.

But first it is vacation time!!!!! 

07 July, 2010

Where on Google Earth Nr. 209

Matthew scored the victory on the last WOGE by finding the Messel Fossil Pit, the only site thats part of the World Heritage solely because of its fossil content. It was also the site of discovery of Ida, the "primate-like" fossil that a while ago made the news and caused some controversy. Matthew doesn't have his own blog nor website so he asked me to host WOGE 209. Naturally I will not participate because I would have an unfair advantage. Below is the image he sent me:

For any new players to Where on (Google) Earth, simply post a comment with latitude and longitude and write something about the (geologic) features in the picture. If you win, you get to host the next one.

Matthew did not let me know if he wants it to be with or without the Schott Rule. I decided that I DO invoke the Schott Rule. Former winners have to wait until posting for 1 hour for each WoGE they got right.

Matthew, if you disagree I will revoke this. Please let me know.

Posting time is July 7th, 3 PM CET ( 1PM UTC).

Matthew has let me know that he wants to post an additional image because it is more than a week now without a reply. Here it is:

02 July, 2010

Where on Google Earth Nr. 208

It is some time since I last won. I am sorry it took a week until postig the next WOGE. Thesis is stressing me a lot and I needed some time to pick a target.

For any new players to Where on (Google) Earth, simply post a comment with latitude and longitude and write something about the (geologic) features in the picture. If you win, you get to host the next one.

I do invoke Schott’s Rule: former winners have to wait until posting for 1 hour for each WoGE they got right.

Posting time is July 2nd, 01:07 AM CET (UTC: 23:07)

19 May, 2010

Accretionary Wedge: The Geo-Image Bonanza

Chris and Anne from Highly Allochthonous have asked us to chose our favorite geo-images for the current edition of the Accretionary Wedge carnival. Similiar to Suvrat I chose a microphotograph of carbonates. The image below is from my on-going thesis about Jurassic carbonates. I have chosen this image because it beautifully unites simplicity and complexity and allows me to tell the story of these rocks - with just a single image.

 Microphotograph of Jurassic carbonate and diagenetic history, crossed nicols.

What you see in the image above are primarily tangential ooids that formed in a shallow-marine, highly energetic depositional setting like a ooid bar or tidal delta with lots of wave and/or current activity as can be observe nowadays on the Bahamas. The good preservation might indicate primary calcitic composition of the ooids. The partially visible peloid in the lower right is probably a micritized ooid. The laminae are still barely visible. Intensive flushing of the ooid sand probably caused rapid and early cementation by marine-phreatic isopachous rim cements. They are not so well preserved. I think these were primary aragonite that was later neomorphosed to calcite. The early cementation clearly pre-dates the compaction and formation of micro-stylolitic contacts between the ooids. White rim cement is trapped inbetween two ooids on the lower right corner. Also note the brownish stylolite there. Probably during burial the pore space was filled by poikilotopic cement.

The combination of a high-energy depositional environment with intense cementation makes these rocks a good material for construction or the production of lime. The well cemented grains will not disintegrate during the calcination process.

28 April, 2010

Blogging Hiatus

Most of you probably already noticed the decline in blogging activity here during the last few months. It is mainly caused by a lack of creativity which is in turn being drained by my thesis and worries in the form of technical and organisational problems or about what to do in the time after receiving my Diplom/Master. I've been looking for PhD positions in Central Europe related to Economic Geology and/or Sedimentology but until now without success. Also on friday will be the first of probably a number (I hope) of job interviews. To save my energy for my thesis and job/PhD hunting I decided to temporarily stop blogging. I will be around though commenting elsewhere and might post very occasionally. Thanks for your understanding.

15 April, 2010


June 25th till 27th will be the time for the Sediment2010 meeting of the Central European Section of the SEPM (SEPM-CES) and the newly established Sedimentology Section of the Geologische Vereinigung (GV). The goal of this meeting is to provide a focus on the current sedimentological research in Germany and neighbouring countries.

The meeting will be located in the city of Potsdam, close to Berlin. There will be a number of short courses and field trips around Berlin.

Just an hour ago I submitted by own abstract for a poster presentation about some of the results of my Diploma mapping project. So you might be able to find me there in person. The extended abstract deadline ends today. Perhaps you want to submit something still?

The website and programm can be found here.

09 April, 2010

First Contact with the Electron Microprobe

Today was my long awaited first appointment with the electron microprobe. Already a month ago I had arranged this session to exemplify on three selected samples the distribution and source of arsenic and other important elements. It was a good but exhausting day spent in the lab together with the research assistant of the mineralogy department who is in charge of the EMP. We confirmed my hypothesis as to the source of arsenic with some pretty clear readings dispite working on grain sizes at the lower limit of the possible with our device. The smallest measured grain has a diameter of perhaps 3 to 5 microns. We also discovered an accesory mineral in the limestone samples that has not yet been previously described to be present in them. It is not necessarily something one might expect in a limestone. I prefer however to not yet reveal it, both because I work on an industry project and because it might be worth, together with a few other facts, to be published after my thesis is completed and graded. We also managed to shoot a hole straight through one of the not yet further identified mica chips. Fun with an electron beam that was not planed. From now on I really love that machine. If it wouldn't cost a fortune and if it wouldn't be almost the size of my room at home I would love to have my own. Below is a picture of the room and machine in action.

Microprobe and computer hardware at the FU Berlin.

04 April, 2010

Happy Easter - Frohe Ostern!

I want to wish all my readers, geobloggers and all people a wonderful holiday and Happy Easter!

Allen Lesern, Bloggern und allen Anderen wuensche ich ein frohes und gesegnetes Osterfest!

31 March, 2010

Calamine deposits and geobotanical exploration aids


Calamine deposits, which are known in Germany as Galmei deposits, are a type of non-sulfide zinc deposits that is fairly widespread throughout Europe. Contrary to today's main source of zinc in the form of zinc sulfides Calamine deposits are, in the extreme case, free of sulfides and have reduced concentrations of lead. Usually they contain zinc in the form of carbonates, oxides and silicates. Some of the most common non-sulfide minerals are Smithsonite, Hydrozincite and Hemimorphite in supergene and Willemite in hydrothermal deposits.

The most common formation mechanism for calamine deposits is the supergene weathering and oxidation of primary sulfides. In opposition deposits containing Willemite are seen by a number of researchers as an indication of the hydrothermal formation of calamine deposits. These are classed as hypogene deposits. The calamine deposits form either by direct replacement of the sulfides, wall-rock replacement of carbonates or residual and karst-fill deposits (Figure 1). They most commonly occur in carbonate host rocks.

Figure 1: Models of formation for supergene non-sulfide deposits (Hinzman et al.)

Known calamine deposits in Central Europe are, i.e. in Eastern Belgium, the Aachen district in Western Germany, the Brilon Galmei district, some supergene mineralization in the MVT deposit of Wiesloch and a number of deposits in Poland – just to name a few. The Belgian town of La Calamine (Moresnet) gave these kind of deposits the internationally known name.

Geobotanical exploration aids

Besides a number of exploration aids that I might discuss in another blog post I would like to concentrate here on a more unusual aspect – namely geobotanical exploration aids for non-sulfides. Although these may be rather minor aids in today's world I chose to discuss these. I simply like pretty flowers. The calamine deposits in Eastern Belgium and Western Germany have indicator plants growing on zinc rich mine dumps and soils. Viola calaminaria (Figure 2), Viola guestfalica and Thlaspi (Figure 4) calaminare are known to occur as useful indicator plants in Western Europe. Viola guestfalica (Figure 3) is endemic to the region of Blankerode in Germany. They can be used as exploration aids in the search of zinc rich soils and heavy metal contaminated mine dumps.

Figure 2:  Viola Calaminaria (from Vito Coppola et al.)

Figure 3: Viola guestfalica (from Burkhard Beinlich und Walter Köble)

Figure 4: Thlaspi calaminare (from Wikipedia)
  • Vito Coppola, Maria Boni, H. Albert Gilg, Giuseppina Balassone, Léon Dejonghe (2008): The “calamine” nonsulfide Zn–Pb deposits of Belgium: Petrographical, mineralogical and geochemical characterization, Ore Geology Reviews, 33
  • Maria Boni and Duncan Large (2003): Nonsulfide Zinc Mineralization in Europe: An Overview, Economic Geology, 98
  • R.R. Brooks (1979): Indicator Plants for Mineral Prospecting - A Critique, Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 12
  • Murray W. Hitzman,Neal A. Reynolds,D. F. Sangster, Cameron R. Allen and Cris E. Carman (2003): Classification, Genesis, and Exploration Guides for Nonsulfide Zinc Deposits, Economic Geology, 98
  • http://www.schmitzens-botanikseite.de/galmei2.htm
  • http://www.egge-weser-digital.de/htm-inhalte/19080082.html
  • http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galmei-Hellerkraut

27 March, 2010

Accretionary Wedge #23: What I do - or want to do.

This is a contribution to the 23rd Accretionary Wedge blog carnival hosted by Geology Happens.

I work on the microfacies, diagenesis, geochemistry and raw material properties of Jurassic shallow-marine carbonate rocks. Unfortunately that is about as much as I can openly discuss about my work details because the project is sponsored by and part of a German constructon material supplier. But that does not matter. There are plenty of issues that I love. Let me tell you about a few of them.

Shallow-marine carbonates: Even though my thesis is related there are issues I would far more enjoy. These are the recent shallow-marine carbonate environments. I enjoy watching images and aerial fotos of reef systems. The Great Barrier Reef, the reefs of the Red Sea or the Bahamas. Just to name some of the better known ones. Nevertheless I am most curious about the non-skeletal carbonates like Ooids. Their deltas and formation is still a not completely solved puzzle and a variety of conclusions on their depositional environment can be drawn from their different internal structures. For example radial or tangential ooids. Yes and, maybe it is just a good excuse to some day actually go to see the Bahamas or the Red Sea.

Calamine Ore deposits: There used to be a number of Calamine (Galmei in German) mines in the Aachen region and around Brilon in central Germany. I would very much like to work on these kinds of deposits to find out about their mineralisation history, the palaeoclimatical controls on weathering  and supergene ore formation. There is a lot of recent interest into these because of the lack of sulfides in these which makes it more environmental friendly to mine and smelt the ores.

Phosphate deposits and terrestrial evaporites: Both of these I want to work on because I know little about them. I know their uses for fertilizers and the chemical industry but their formation is a mystery when considering the details, aside of the general parts I assume every geologists knows. Sedimentary phosphorites are the most common source and directly linked to the activity of life. They are peculiar. Rare. Geologically speaking. Island or Guano deposits are small, rather recent bird droppings. Last but not least some carbonatites and pegmatites rich in apatite. Nice, shiny minerals.

Tantalum and Niobium deposits: I don't even know why I like these so much but I would really love to work on some tantalite placers in Namibia or elsewhere. This would almost have been my Master thesis topic - if financial issues wouldn't have killed it. *sniff*

So I now told you what I want to do. Some of it. Because what I do now I cannot talk about. Now all that is missing is to find someone to support all of those interests or winning the lottery that I don't play.

I am a Carbonate and Economic Geologist - when I am not being lost or travelling. :-)

19 March, 2010

Accretionary Wedge #23

The Accretionary Wedge #23 is about to take place on Geology Happens. This time it is about sharing your current findings and discoveries. Take a look at the complete announcement! Entries are due march 26th on Geology Happens. I encourage you all to participate!

08 March, 2010

Geonauten blog

A German language blog which I should have added to my blog feed long ago is Geonauten. The visually very appealing blog focuses on volcanoes but also deals with other issues of geology. It is managed by a team of four geology enthusiasts who have a background in engineering and geology. Some of the highlights are their documentaries about travels and trips to geologically interesting places. Recommendable!

07 March, 2010

Some small re-constructions

As you may notice I am trying to implement a few, small re-constructions of the blog layout. I always wanted to add a few stand alone pages. As it seems - now I can.

03 March, 2010

Geologists - Stargate Univers

Today I saw the 3rd episode of Stargate Univers on German TV. I was looking forward to it, especially because of the geologist's character. The problem was to find a substance to filter CO2 from the air. They travel to a desert planet to search for limestone (CaCO3) to act as an air filter. But one thing at a time.

Upon arrivel the geologist looks down and takes some grains of sand into her hand. She attests it to be Gypsum (CaSO4+2*H20). The next sentence she utters ruins my evening. She says that is good because Gypsum is 36% Calciumcarbonate (CaCO3). I am shocked. Numbers aside, there is no carbonate whatsoever in Gypsum!

She says Gypsum is Calcium-Sulfide...ehem...Sulfate is the word! 

Next she explains they need to find limestone. They use a funny red liquid that has to turn clear, they do not explain what it is, to show that the sand is limestone. Sounds complicated - bad geologist: Don't they have any weak acid? 5% or 10% HCl would be a much quicker and water (one drop instead of half a liter) saving method to determine limestone. Even without any acid a good geologists should be able to identify Calcite - especially in contrast to Gypsum.

Then we learn that they need to find a salt lake to discover limestone. I am confused. Although there are terrestrial and sabhka carbonate deposits, looking for those in the middle of a Gypsum desert seems not very promising. Salt lakes have a higher potential for finding evaporites or brines to use. The brines of a number of salts could theoretically be used to absorb CO2. Apparently the Stargate Univers geologists is completely unaware of that potential and fixed on limestone.

The geologist and some other guy rebell and go to some other planet through the gate. I assume they get stranded there for eternity. A good punishment!

Also, even with a couple of cubic meters of limestone they will first need to exert a lot of their precious energy to remove the CO2 from it to gain CaO which they need to dissolve in water (also rare on the spaceship). It would be much more practical to get a some of the natural brines from the salt lake. There seems to be an underground brine source even. They would no longer require massive amounts of energy or processing.

And then - if there is so much energy as to burn lime why not use the waste heat to drive the crystal water from the gypsum? Wouldn't it be an ingenious method to also replenish the small water supplies?!

Oh well - I shouldn't have paid attention to the geologist there. Sigh.

27 February, 2010

Back to blogging

I'm back online. It was possible to make a complete back-up of my harddrive before formating and reinstalling Windows. Mental note: never leave a USB-Stick or MP3-Player in the ports when switching-off or re-starting your computer. It might drive your operating system into suicide.

23 February, 2010

Temporary Absence

Dear readers, followers and friends. Due to a severe and complete crash of my computer I will be without internet access for the next days (I hope) or weeks (I am afraid of). It is now in the hands of professionals who, I hope, will at least safe my thesis data (or better, the entire computer). Don't be surprised if my respondses to emails or comments are slow or don't happen at all. It is beyond my control right now. I will try to answer all your emails and comments as soon as possible under this difficult situation. Thank you.

21 February, 2010

Tools and Tricks: Dictionary of Applied Geology

Thanks to my friend Kathrin I discovered a lengthy and 4-language dictionary of applied geology published online in the free access journal Freiberg Online Geosciences. In the 2001 edition a dictionary in German, English, Spanish and French is presented that has been compiled by Freiberg hydrogeologists. Consindering that I used to study for several semesters in Freiberg it is rather embarassing that only now I come across this interesting dictionary. All 4 language versions and one index can be freely downloaded as searchable PDF-files.

Here are the direct links to the files:

Index file
German version
English version
French version
Spanish version

I also recommend actually checking out their website. It features a number of papers on investigations of Freiberg geologists.

06 February, 2010

Tools and Tricks: Image analysis software for the geosciences

Trying to find an easy way to do modal analysis on fotomicrographs of thin-sections I found two very useful and free programms to assist in such efforts. These programms are JMicroVision and ImageJ. Both of them are Java based and should function on any ordinary computer. I've been testing both of these in the last weeks and they have their uses. JMicroVision has been developed by Nicolas Roduit of the University of Geneva with image analysis of petrographic thin-section in mind and allows to do various tasks easily, like point-counting, area counting, grain-size measuring or pore classificaton to just name a few. ImageJ originated in the field of biology and medicine, was developed by Wayne Rasband from the National Institute of Mental Health, Maryland, and thus lacks a little the easy to find path as the other programm though offers a lot of tools and plugins that make-up for that short coming. What I found to be an enormously interesting feature is the possibility to make 3D images from serial fotographs or other well aligned image sources which sounds like a great tool to make 3D images from serial thin-sections of fossils. The biggest short-coming of both programmes I discovered to be the image analysis of contrast poor limestones which I am working. Neither programm manages to adequately seperate components and cements. So I have to stick to old-fashioned point-counting. Utilising contrast and color-richer sandstones or crystaline rocks easily gives great results though!

Being relatively new to the computer aided image analysis I recommend to check-out the respective websites yourself. I am sure to some of you these will be a value!

03 February, 2010

Ooids and De-Dolomite

Today in the lab I finally finished the thin-sections that I will be investigating as part of my Diploma thesis. I gave them their final touch with a mesh 1200 powder. There is a simple polarisation microscope in the lab allow a quick quality check. I took an ordinary digital camera and held it to the eye-piece. These are some selected results of that. The thin-sections were not yet cleaned, occasional dark spots are left-over polishing powder. No deeper interpretation, yet, I have still to begin with that.

 An Oolite in thin-section at low-magnification. Lots of ooids within sparitic cement.

 An ooid in high-magnification.

Blue-dyed epoxy has filled the open porosity. Here, rhomboidal dolomite has been dissolved. Undissolved examples directly above.

16 January, 2010

Geoblog: Piedras en los bolsillos

A good friend mine from Peru working on environmental geology and geologic hazards is running a blog on her research. All posts are related to the research, especially land slides in all their forms, focused in the larger Lima region. Lots of insightful images and maps complement her posts. Take a look at Piedras en los bolsillos which means as much as "Rocks in the pockets". This blog is written exclusively in Spanish.

A new German Geoblog

Gunnar from the Amphibol-Blog has turned my attention to a new, German Geoblog. I am happy to mention it here. The number of German geology related blogs is rather low. The author, a geophysics student, calls him- or herself Stryke and writes exclusively in German on a variety of issues. The name: And the Water seems inviting

Also I added this new blog to my feed of German Geoblogs that you can find on the navigation bar on the right.

14 January, 2010

Arsenic, Geology and Public Health

I am by no means an Environmental Geologist nor am I particularly active on the side of Medical or Forensic Geology. Nevertheless I discovered much to my pleasure the fascinating thematical width of geology. Specialising myself in Economic Geology and Carbonate Sedimentology has lead me to consider human health effects of natural rock, soil and water contaminants. In my case arsenic.

Arsenic is a common constituent of metallic ores and used in a variety of applications. However, even in areas that are not mineralised in terms of ores high arsenic values can be encountered. Arsenic poisoning can be acute or chronic. In the geological context acute arsenic poisoning is rather rare and the actual risk lies within chronic arsenic poisoning or arsenocosis. Arsenocosis leads to skin problems, skin cancer, cancer of internal organs, diseases of blood vessels, legs and feet (Black Foot Disease). The most common source of arsenic poisoning is low-level arsenic intake from contaminated drinking water. One of the most severe cases of wide-spread arsenocosis can be found in Eastern India and Bangladesh where groundwater has replaced surface water as the main source of drinking water. Elevated As content now affects millions of people. Even As levels as low as 0,005 - 0,01 mg/l have been found to have negative effects on human health.

Mesozoic limestones in Alsace contain elevated As levels between 20 and 77 ppm. Mineralised faults reach As level as high as 2738 ppm. The global average for limestones is around 2 to 3 ppm. Limestones in southern Alsace function as karst aquifers and are important sources of potable water extracted locally at various springs both natural and artifical. Several studies of the French Bureau de Recherche Géologique et Minière (BRGM) have investigated the As contamination in my thesis area. Groundwater from both natural and artificial springs can contain as much as 5960 µm/l of As. Average values are significantly lower though they still exceed values considered harmless. Studies showed the strong connection to faults and deep, chlorine enriched waters making their way to the surface along them.

The recommendations of the BRGM have, to my knowledge, largely been implemented. Highly contaminated springs have been closed and replaced with springs containing only small amounts of arsenic. The irregular and sometimes unpredictable nature of the karst aquifers causes some springs to be exceptionally contaminated - in connection with local faults. Medium contaminated springs have been recommended to receive water treatment by coagulation to remove As with FeCl3.

In the end these aspects also influence my work. Limestones with elevated As are unsuitable for usage in foodstuffs and animal feeds. However, and I will try to elaborate on this aspect a little in my thesis, with the proven connection to deep seated faults and the studies of the BRGM, it may be possible to delineate areas of limestone with only low As content, which seems to be decreasing rapidly away from major faults and also with decreasing amounts of insoluble residue (Fe- and clay minerals).

Finally, the influence of natural contaminants on human health can be found where one might not expect. Even in projects unrelated to mineralised areas. It has to be considered especially where it seems unlikely to occur - when the groundwater pumps where installed in India and Bangladesh no one considered Arsenic.


Takahiko Yoshida, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Gui Fan Sun, 2004. Chronic health effects in people exposed to arsenic via the drinking water: dose–response relationships in review. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 198 (2004) 243– 252

SANJUAN B., DAESSLE M. (1997) Caractérisation des aquifères contaminés par de l'arsenic dans le Haut-Rhin. Rapport final . Rapport BRGM R39799. Download here.

08 January, 2010

First news for 2010

Without noticing it on time the two year anniversary of my blog passed yesterday on January 7th. The last two years saw 238 blog posts, with the first year of blogging more active than the 2nd which I blame on being more busy with my thesis related works. I didn't have the opportunity to compile an anniversary post or series, my excuses.

I now have an office at university in which I can work on my thesis. Good that I asked for it because there was just one free room now that one of the interim professors left. Well, till april I can call it my office when I need to move out again for the new teacher but I hope to have more regular writing motivation being at university. I will "move-in" with my stuff sometime next week.

Also I have started in serious searching for possible Jobs or PhD positions related to my main interests of ore and mineral deposits, carbonate sedimentology and phosphorites/industrial minerals exploration. Hopefully, by the time I graduate with my Diplom/Master (probably sometime in May or June) I will have one or two interesting positions to chose from.